Nearly $10 million will go to improving broadband access in 19 North Carolina counties, most of which are in the eastern region.
"They are the most economically disadvantaged counties in the state so we wanted to make sure that they had the connections to broadband to facilitate that economic development that they so badly need," said Jeff Sural, the director of the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology.
The Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program will provide a total of $9,855,026 to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that compete to make internet service expansion more affordable in Tier 1 counties. Twenty-one companies will receive matching grants to provide high-speed internet access to 9,800 households across the state.
"We're in the 21st century so a lot of what we do revolves around our ability to communicate using the internet. That internet connection needs to be the high-speed internet connection that allows for folks to go on and conduct business, or do research for homework assignments, and also for public safety to facilitate the communication of emergency responders," said Sural.
According to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper's office, 11 out of 14 grant recipients are small businesses based in North Carolina. In March, Cooper issued Executive Order 91 which establishes the Governor's Task Force on Connecting North Carolina, which promotes broadband internet connectivity and supports the installation of broadband technology, among other duties. Cooper's latest budget includes $35 million to expand broadband access, including $30 million for more GREAT grants.
The grant recipients include:
Bertie Roanoke Connect Holdings
Bladen Star Telephone Membership Corp
Caswell Open Broadband, LLC
Chowan JCMM Ventures
Clay Frontier Communications
Columbus Atlantic Membership Telephone Corp
Gates Roanoke Connect Holdings
Greene CenturyLink/Carolina Telephone & Telegraph and NfinityLink
Halifax Olsen enterprises dba Cloudwyze
Hertford Roanoke Connect Holdings
Jackson Sky-Fi Inc.
Jones Eastern Carolina Broadband
Lenoir CenturyLink/Carolina Telephone & Telegraph and Eastern Carolina Broadband
Macon Morris Broadband/Shivers Communications Corp
McDowell Morris Broadband/Shivers Communications Corp
Northampton Roanoke Connect Holdings
Person North Carolina Wireless
Swain Sky Wave, Inc.
Vance Open Broadband, LLC